Torvill-Dean Win; Hamilton Slips Slightly
By Jane Leavy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 15, 1984; Page G1
They skated to the music of Bolero, that haunting, erotic theme, and told a tale of two lovers who cannot be together, so together throw themselves into a lava pit. When their performance was over and they lay sprawled on the ice, the rink had been transformed into a volcano.
Applause erupted, then hushed as everyone waited for the scores. The judges agreed that they are the perfect couple. They received a total of 12 perfect, 6.0 scores, including all nine for artistic impression, the most they ever have received for one performance in their career.
Princess Anne watched as they were crowned. The performance that earned them the gold medal for ice dancing will be remembered by those who care about skating the way people remember Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov's ballet on ice. People will brag years from now that they were there when Torvill and Dean lit a fire in Sarajevo.
Earlier in the day, there was a mild surprise when U.S. and world champion Scott Hamilton, who has been operating on cruise control, finished second behind Brian Orser of Canada in the short program phase of the men's competition. It was the first time he has finished second in the required elements since the national championships in 1982.
Hamilton still remains comfortably in first place, so comfortably, in fact, that he would have to finish fifth in the freestyle Thursday to lose the medal to Orser, who is now fifth overall.
Clearly, this day belonged to Torvill and Dean.
"Tonight was the ultimate of our amateur career," Dean said. "It's what we've been working for I don't know how many years. This is like the pinnacle we've been going towards the whole time, since we put on skates. Tonight we reached the pinnacle."
And they weren't about to throw themselves in. Still, they seemed curiously subdued, perhaps depleted, later. "That was the high when we skated," he said.
There were only unspeakable lows for Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert, the U.S. pair who began the evening in third place. They finished fourth. They missed a bronze medal by one-tenth of a point on the card of one of the judges, Cia Bordogna of Italy, which was exactly their fate at the world championships last year.
The top Soviet pair, Natalya Bestemyanova and Andrei Boukin, finished second.Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, who were in fourth place when the night began, won the bronze.
Blumberg and Seibert received four third-place votes, as did Klimova and Ponomarenko. They were tied on Bordogna's card. But the vote went to the Soviets because Bordogna gave them a higher mark for technical merit, 5.8 to 5.7 for the Americans. Her scores for them in artistic presentation were reversed.
Had Bordogna graded Blumberg and Seibert one-tenth of a point higher on technical merit, they would have won the bronze. "She's been the swing vote for us before, at Helsinki, Hartford, Copenhagen, and she's always swung with the Russians," Seibert said.
"It's hard," he added. "It just seems to hurt a little more when it's your one chance for an Olympic medal."
Bordogna said through an interpreter, "Regrettably, they chose a piece of music that doesn't conform to the rules. The rules say you must be able to dance on a dance floor to the music. You can't dance to Scheherazade. You can dance to Bolero. I have no prejudice against this couple. If they had chosen another piece of music, for me, they would have won the silver medal."
Torvill and Dean have expanded the horizons of ice dancing. That was much in evidence tonight. They skated a seamless program to one piece of music, one rhythm. There were no breaks in their flow, no idle gestures. Only spectacular ones. They began sitting on the ice in a simulated embrace. They didn't move off the ice until nearly 30 seconds into the music. The tone and the rhythm had been set. The performance was so suggestive it prompted one reporter to ask if theyintend to marry. "Well, not this week," Dean said.
They rose. The rest was a lyrical ballet. He balanced her on one leg as they glided across the ice. He held her aloft, as on a pedestal, by one boot, a controversial move because he lifts his other arm above his shoulder. He did a series of splits across the ice as she whirled above him. At the end, he held her around his waist and twirled first inside, then out, before they plunged to the ice.
"We don't consider it controversial," Dean said. "Maybe it's something that hasn't been done before. That's what we're all about. We try to be inventive and do different things. Obviously, we didn't know how it would be received, the music, but we felt strongly about it."Which is precisely what Blumberg and Seibert try to do. Like Torvill and Dean, they skated to one piece of music, Scheherazade, one rhythm. They do not possess the technical or balletic grandeur of the British, but their program had an idea and a flow and it seemed that was what the judges were rejecting. The TheseusSoviet pairs skated much more conventional programs, with three and four changes in rhythm.
The other day, Ron Ludington, who coaches the second U.S. pair of Carol Fox and Richard Dalley, who finished sixth, predicted that after Torvill and Dean leave the sport, which they have said they will do after the world championships in March, it will revert to the Soviet style of ice dancing. The results tonight seemed to support him.
Sever was asked if he thought the message from the judges is that only Torvill and Dean will be allowed to break with convention. "But why?" he said.
"If that's the message, how can anybody expect to get higher in the world," Blumberg said.
Blumberg and Seibert thought they had a silver medal-winning program. Earlier in the competition, they ran into trouble with Bordogna, who gave them a 5.3 on their first compulsory dance compared to the 5.7 they received from the British judge. At the world championships last year, .2 of a point more from the Italian or Austrian judge for artistic impression, or .2 more from the Italian judge for technical merit, would have given them the silver medal.
"I think what we've done is important," Seibert said. "It's the correct way for ice dancing to go whether the Italian judge questions it or not; that's her problem. She's never been a supporter in the past, so she's not a supporter now.That's nothing new. Change happens slowly. Somebody has to come forward to take the risk before it expands and opens up."
Earlier in the day, Hamilton realized that he, too, is in a risky situation.For the first time, he said, it hit him that this is the Olympics. "Bam, do ordie," he said. "I got a little excited. People were calling my name. I couldn't jump anymore."
After missing a few jumps in warmups, he was calm during the program but wobbled on his camel sit spin. "This will stick in my mind," he said. "It's not one of my strong performances. I'll probably take it home for the next day and a half and really get mad. I'm going to stick it."
Wednesday, world champion Rosalynn Sumners and former world champion Elaine Zayak, both of the United States, begin their quest for the gold in women's figure skating, with the compulsory figures phase.
The short program will take place Thursday and the finals Saturday.
The chief competition for the U.S. women should come from Katarina Witt of East Germany and Claudia Leistner of West Germany, who finished second to Sumners at the world championships in Helsinki last year.
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